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Manchester Environmental Education Network

Burnage Academy High School

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MEEN was invited to work with an after-school club called ‘Caring for the climate club’ and the team have made good advances over a short period of time. The club described their aims and activities on the school’s twitter account stating: ‘We are the Burnage Academy Caring for the Climate Club. We are Years 7 – 9 who are passionately engaged in learning and teaching others about the environment and how to care for our earth’.

When MEEN first met the team the pupils agreed on two priorities: they wanted to make a difference to the recycling levels in the school through setting up a battery recycling scheme and to prioritise planting trees in the school grounds. So during March the team explored the grounds looking for suitable tree planting sites. We then organised for a tree planting session and planted a selection of beech trees, wayfaring trees and dogwoods in different areas of the school grounds. The team have been monitoring the trees and regularly watered them during the dry Spring season.

Initially the battery recycling scheme was to be set up re-using cardboard boxes. However, when MEEN discovered that the Council had booked a room at the school for a ward meeting on climate change, we suggested the pupils attend and deliver a presentation. They were encouraged to apply to Manchester City Council’s Neighbourhood Investment Fund to purchase more permanent battery bins but to get funding the team needed to pitch for it at the event.

The boys did a fantastic job of winning support for the project and were awarded the funding. They also got to meet local councillors and various other local, environmental organisations who also attended the event.

Once the Eco lead had ordered some recycling boxes they were carefully labelled and situated around the school for the collecting to begin.

Given their financial success the Climate club were keen to reach out and support local primary schools as a part of their battery recycling initiative. In response MEEN contacted local schools on the team’s behalf to ask if they would like to be a part of the project. One school responded very positively to the idea that the boys would not only deliver the recycling boxes but also provide a walking collection service to ensure the project has a low carbon footprint.

Consequently, we organised a visit to Acacias Primary school to deliver the collection box. The Eco team at Acacias were keen to meet the Climate Club not only to receive the box but to listen to a short presentation about why battery recycling is so important and to discuss how the two school clubs might be able to work together in the future.

Burnage boys were keen to organise a litter pick whilst the Acacias team were hoping to be able to make bird boxes in Burnage High’s technology facilities – all ideas to be explored in the next academic year.

In the meantime, it was important to keep an eye on the battery boxes that had been situated around the school. The boys checked the recycling stations on a regular basis but also discovered a couple of them were also being used as general bins! After some discussion it was decided that better signage and publicity was needed to prevent the problem in the future.

The club also took its message to the Manchester City Council’s Green Bees Climate Change Assembly where the team spent two full days learning about climate change with pupils from two other high schools.

When asked what they had found most useful at these sessions one of the boys commented on the presentation about fast fashion being extremely interesting saying, ‘I had no idea fast fashion contributed so many greenhouse gases.’ But they also enjoyed sharing the work being done by the Care for Climate Club.

The pupils at the Green Bees event went on to the Bee Green Conference for climate leaders on the 30th June where their climate activism was supported through attending different workshops focused on communicating the various messages around climate change.

They also engaged very positively with the primary pupils who were running the MEEN stall at the conference. The boys spent time talking to the primary school children and sharing their knowledge and ideas around climate change, food and soils.

The work of the Care for Climate Club was summed up at the end of term and shared through the school’s news streams with the encouraging news that, ‘They’re not stopping’. We look forward to finding out what they would like to do next.

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